Calling a spade
Business World, 17 April 2013


The Movement for Good Governance, or MGG (full disclosure: I am its nominal Chair, but it is Nene Guevara who makes things happen) held its Timbangan 2013 on Tuesday evening. The top 24 senatorial candidates, as per the latest poll results, were subjected to an evaluation by panelists, based on the so-called MGG Scorecard. The audience cast their votes twice: the first time before the forum and evaluation process started, and the second time after the panel discussions had taken place. Interesting, yes?

But before we go any further, let me elaborate on the MGG Scorecard, which elaboration comes directly from the MGG Web site: “It is a simple and effective guide to evaluate candidates based on three key leadership criteria: effectiveness, empowering, and ethical leadership… it uses diverse local and international governance benchmarks from Gawad Galing Pook, the World Bank, and the UN… finalized with the assistance of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP), the country’s leading human resource organization.”

I am, as MGG Chair, quoted as saying, “This scorecard helps Filipinos regardless of social class and background to evaluate candidates… enables voters to critically think through all the information, jingles and gimmicks thrown at them by political campaigns.”

Who were the panelists? Joy Aceron, program director of the Ateneo School of Government’s Political Democracy and Reform (PODER) program, former Negros Occidental Governor Rafael “Lito” Coscolluela, IT expert, Namfrel leader and former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman, former Finance secretary and AIM President Roberto “Bobby” de Ocampo, and yours truly. There was no discussion or comparison among the panelists of their respective evaluations prior to the forum itself.

They were divided into two groups: The first panel evaluated the six “Re-electionists” — Cayetano, Escudero, Honasan, Legarda, Pimentel andTrillanes; and the five “Returnees” (former senators) — Gordon, Maceda, Madrigal,Magsaysay and Zubiri.

The second panel evaluated the seven senatorial wannabes from the Lower House — Angara, Casiño, Ejercito, Hontiveros, Magsaysay, Ponce Enrile and Villar; and six of the”neophyte” candidates — Aquino, Binay, Cojuangco, de los Reyes, Hagedorn, and Poe. Youth leader Darwin Mariano acted as moderator for both panels, and asked them to answer the question: which of the candidates would meet the three criteria of effectiveness, empowerment and ethics? Why or why not? And then there were the 80-member audience, the “voters,” who, based on the registration list, included a very good mix of the young and the old, males and females, business, media, academe, housewives, college and graduate students, former government officials, not to mention members of CSO’s like Code NGO, Youth Vote, InciteGov, Philippine Jury Advocates, Transparent Elections, CSR Philippines. It is noteworthy, and unfortunate, that there was no one from the D and E socioeconomic classes — a shortcoming that will be addressed in the next Timbangan fora to be held in Navotas, in Obando, Bulacan, and in Cotabato City, with different panelists, next week.

The members of the audience, were all provided with the same briefing papers that the panelists had, which contained information on each of the candidates by criterion. They were also provided with sample scorecard, so that they could themselves rate the candidates as the discussion went on and the panelists explained/defended their ratings.

Suffice it to say that the discussions, in which political dynasties and their effects were focused on among other things, must have changed a lot of minds, as seen from a comparison of the pre- and post-discussion voting results. It is safe to say that the discipline of rating candidates on the basis of the same set of criteria for all, contributed in no small manner to the difference in results, which are posted below (for the number of votes, please go to MGG Web site):

First Vote Second Vote
1. Hontiveros 1. R. Magsaysay
2. Gordon 2. Pimentel
3. R. Magsaysay 3. Hontiveros
4. Aquino 4. J.C. de los Reyes
5. Angara 5. Gordon
6.-7. Hagedorn 6. Hagedorn
6.-7. Pimentel 7. Poe
8. Casiño 8. Casiño
9. Cayetano 9. Angara
10. Escudero 10. Aquino
11. Legarda 11. Madrigal
12. Poe 12. Escudero
13. Trillanes 13. Cayetano
14. Zubiri 14. Legarda
15. M. Magsaysay 15. Zubiri
Some of the vote swings were very large, even though the rankings may have changed only a little. As I said earlier, please go to the MGG Web site if you are interested in numbers.

Huling hirit: I urge the Reader to go to the MGG Web site, download the scorecard, consult the briefer (all available), and undergo the same exercise, on her own. At the very least, if she follows this procedure, one will never hear a “why will you waste your vote on him/her? He/she cannot win” from herself anymore. One will now vote/ not vote for a person, because one thinks the person has the right/wrong qualities, and not because one thinks the person is a winner/loser. That will be a big step forward for good governance and for the country.